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Women’s entrepreneurship policy: a 13 nation cross-country comparison

Colette Henry (School of Business and Economics, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromso, Norway)
Barbara Orser (Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Susan Coleman (Barney School of Business, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut, USA)
Lene Foss (School of Business and Economics, UiT-The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 11 September 2017




Government attention to women’s entrepreneurship has increased in the past two decades; however, there are few cross-cultural studies to inform policy development. This paper aims to draw on gender and institutional theory to report on the status of female-focused small and medium-sized enterprises/entrepreneurship policies and to ask how – and to what extent – do women’s entrepreneurship policies differ among countries?


A common methodological approach is used to identify gaps in the policy-practice nexus.


The study highlights countries where policy is weak but practice is strong, and vice versa.

Research limitations/implications

The study’s data were restricted to policy documents and observations of practices and initiatives on the ground.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for policy makers in respect of support for women’s entrepreneurship. Recommendations for future research are advanced.


The paper contributes to extant knowledge and understanding about entrepreneurship policy, specifically in relation to women’s entrepreneurship. It is also one of the few studies to use a common methodological approach to explore and compare women’s entrepreneurship policies in 13 countries.



The authors are grateful to Enterprise Ireland for hosting the first Global WEP Workshop in Dundalk, Ireland, in October 2015. This paper is an earlier version of the following book chapter: Women’s entrepreneurship policy: A 13-nation cross country comparison, Colette Henry, Barbara Orser, Susan Coleman, Lene Foss and Friederike Welter, in Manolova, Tatiana S., Brush, Candida G. Edelman, Linda F. and Welter, Friederike (ed.) (2017), Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Growth of Women’s Entrepreneurship, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing. The authors are grateful to Edward Elgar Publishing for granting permission to reprint this chapter in the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship (IJGE).

The following research scholars from the The Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Policy (WEP) Project Team made substantial contributions to this article: Helene Ahl, Karin Berglund, Patrice Braun, Anne de Bruin, Cristina Diaz-Garcia, Malin Gawell, Helen Lawton Smith, Kate Lewis, Pauric McGowan, Dina Nziku, Katarina Pettersson, Shandana Sheikh, Malin Tillmar, Friederike Welter, Shumaila Yousafzai.


Henry, C., Orser, B., Coleman, S. and Foss, L. (2017), "Women’s entrepreneurship policy: a 13 nation cross-country comparison", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 206-228.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Colette Henry, Barbara Orser, Susan Coleman, Lene Foss and Friederike Welter.

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